Review: Corzine for Gov

Two new ads are up from the incumbent governor most likely to lose this fall (are there actually any others?), “Stand,” and the one I chose to review, “Congratulations.” Both ads have some interesting stylistic features; maybe I’ll review “Stand” later this week, if I get a some time.

I chose “Congratulations” because it offers a chance to talk about something I wrote about in an old failed blog — kinetic typography. What’s that? Well, here’s the best example of kinetic typography I’ve seen. Seriously, take two minutes and watch it, it’s totally worth it.

Back? Good, now take another look at this ad.

Form (on a scale A-F): B/B-

All right, let’s get down to it.  If I’m a big fan of kinetic typography, why doesn’t this spot grade out higher? Because I think it uses the kinetic type mostly as a show piece. Is the moving text really conveying any new information, or just a snazzy transition between one CG card and the next?

So sure, this is kinetic typography, but a pretty basic and pretty uninteresting example of it. Now, this type of ad is very hard to produce, every word and movement has to be planned out in advance, it’s time consuming, and it’s the type of ad that you need to give yourself a little extra time to create.  So there’s a reason to keep it simple when you’re cranking out campaign ads. But this isn’t the middle of a campaign, it’s first ad salvo; they should be able to give you more than just spinning letters.

Here, take a look at an ad we did from last year called, “Silent Bob.” (Yes, for all you Kevin Smith fans, the name was a joke that only I got.) Look, our ad is no “Girl Effect,” but the movement of the text was designed to accentuate Schaffer’s statement, make it all the more absurd, and drive the point home that’s he’s not on the side of Colorado. I point this out not to extol my work, but rather to say, you can do kinetic type on the cheap and still serve a message.

What is the text movement here doing? What is its function? I’m not sure; frankly, it feels lazy and derivative (and derivative can be good if you add you own twist).

What saves it from being a C+ form grade is the word cloud forming Christie’s image at the end; while I would quibble that the words should be easier to read (not sure if that possible), it was neat and innovative and does serve a message function. It’s not perfect, but I appreciate the effort there, and frankly, I’m going to steal it someday for an ad (unless everyone else is using it, in which case never mind).

Function (on a scale A-F): B-

It’s June, you’re an incumbent up for re-election, and you’re way down in the polls. It’s New Jersey. What do you do? Re-position your opponent, or in common parlance, go negative (the idea of negative ads is something I’ll take on another day). Opening with a negative is always a risky proposition, but less so in this case. Corzine is already unpopular, Jersey is used to slash and burn campaigns, and the only way to get his numbers up is to remind people that Corzine may be unpopular, but at least he’s on the right side of issues. Basically, he has to steal his vote from Democrats & Independents who are now siding with Christie.

Now, quick, name two things the ad mentions that Christie is against. Kinda hard, right? The point isn’t any one issue, but the idea that Christie is on the wrong side of ALL the issues, he’s not on your side.

They don’t overplay the negative with horrible music or an over-the-top voice over, which helps make the ad more believable.

The real risk now is that it’s June, will these or any Corzine attacks be as strong in October? The more you attack an opponent, the more the public starts to take everything you say with a grain of salt.

Final Grade (on a scale A-F): B-

It’s a solid ad, not too negative and fairly slick. It serves a purpose to get people to reconsider their support for Christie, hold their nose and vote for Corzine as the lesser of two evils.

The form isn’t helping it to deliver its message; it’s just slick and lazy until the end — which is interesting and effective, bordering on really good.

My main beef is that it’s mimicking a style with no understanding of what that style should be accomplishing. It’s like speaking a language without knowing the vocabulary; the words are familiar, but the meaning is gibberish.

Still, the effect doesn’t take from the message, it’s just a missed opportunity. To quote Shakespeare, it is “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

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